Codex Alimentarius Commission: 24-26 September 2020 and 12 October 2020

Live updates of decisions being taken at the ongoing 43rd Session

The United Nations food standards body Codex Alimentarius Commission is being held online from 24 to 26 September 2020 and 12 October 2020 to adopt food safety and quality standards.

Charged with protecting consumer health and ensuring fair practices in the food trade, the Codex Alimentarius is a joint initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Decisions taken at the 43rd session of the Commission will be published below as they are made.

For more information on the upcoming Codex session, visit the links listed at right.

Standard for fermented cooked cassava-based products

ADOPTED- 24.09.2020

Cassava balls or sticks are obtained from fresh cassava roots, peeled, cut, soaked in water for fermentation, pressed and dried before packaging and cooking. Cassava is common in African diets and makes up 40 percent of the roots and tubers market. This standard will contribute to the regularization of the sector making it possible to define the identity and quality characteristics of fermented cassava products.

Standard for fresh leaves of Gnetum spp.

ADOPTED- 24.09.2020

The leaves of Gnetum spp, a wild evergreen climber found in the rain forests, are commonly known and consumed as eru, okok, fumbua and okasi. Countries will be able to regulate the sale and export of these products by basing their national legislation on this standard that establishes the characteristics and expected quality of the product.

New work: Guidelines for supporting the development of harmonized food laws in Africa

ADOPTED- 25.09.2020

The food trade is expected to increase throughout the region now that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has come into force and will support countries, often with different legal systems, in incorporating the key principles underpinning food control into national food laws in the manner most appropriate for each specific country. This will contribute to the harmonization of sanitary and phytosanitary measures and to the restriction of discriminatory treatment in trade relations.  

Regional standard for kava products for use as a beverage when mixed with water

ADOPTED- 25.09.2020

Kava is part of both the culture and the economy of the Pacific Islands. The root of the kava plant, native to the region, is used to prepare a traditional drink and the regional standard for kava products for use as a beverage when mixed with water will facilitate fair trade practices and strengthen local economies. Pacific Island countries partnered with experienced Codex Members in the region to develop the text of the standard. 

New work: Regional standard for soybean products fermented with Bacillus species

ADOPTED- 25.09.2020

Natto, Cheonggukjang, Douchi, Kinema and Thua nao sa are traditional products fermented with Bacillus spp produced and mainly traded in Asia. Natto,for example, is produced in Japan by fermenting steamed soybeans with the bacterium Bacillus subtilis var. natto and by subsequent aging in cold or freezing conditions. Containing a variety of nutrients such as high-quality protein, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, Natto is widely recognized as a healthy food. 

New work: Regional standard for quick frozen dumpling

ADOPTED- 25.09.2020

Quick frozen food is a rapidly growing industry with sales in China alone of USD 4.8 billion in 2018. The dumplings, with their unique taste and high nutritional value, are made of dough and can be filled with meat, seafood, eggs, nuts or vegetables. The regional standard will establish the specifications, processing procedures, hygiene and labelling requirements for the product to bring consistency across the region, improve product safety and quality and ensure a level playing field for trade.

New work: Regional standard for cooked rice wrapped in plant leaves

ADOPTED- 25.09.2020

This product, widely consumed under a variety of names in countries such as China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam, is made of glutinous or other rice as the main raw material: with or without adding ingredients such as beans, nuts, meat, poultry and eggs as filling. It is completely wrapped and moulded with various types of leaves and tied with cotton threads. After being steamed and cooked, the product may be vacuum packaged and quick frozen. A lack of a standard for these products can lead to obstacles in trade, therefore with production and sales on the increase, work to ensure uniformity in cooked rice products in the region is timely

Standard for kiwifruit

ADOPTED- 25.09.2020

Worldwide kiwifruit production and trade is growing and becoming increasingly valuable. This standard defines quality for kiwifruit including minimum requirements, classifications, sizing and quality tolerances. The standard will be a reference point for kiwifruit and facilitate fair practices in trade.

Standard for fresh garlic

ADOPTED- 25.09.2020

Fresh garlic is one of the most popular culinary species around the world. The standard defines three classes based on quality and presentation. For example, for class II garlic, there should be no more than three cloves, or one fifth of the total number of cloves in a bulb missing: whereas for “Extra” class and class I garlic, the cloves must be compact or reasonably compact.  

Standard for ware potatoes

ADOPTED- 25.09.2020

This standard defines the quality requirements for ware potatoes at the export-control stage after preparation and packaging. Ware potato comes in different varieties, sizes and colour and production and trade are increasing worldwide. Generally, size is the only criteria taken into consideration, therefore this standard will help enhance trade as it identifies common quality factors which can be harmonized across regions. 

Standard for yam

ADOPTED- 25.09.2020

Yam originates from Southeast Asia and Melanesia,and is exported to other regions such as the Americas, Africa, the rest of Asia, and Australia. Yam as a tuber is sensitive to physiological and physical damage, bruising, and cold conditions. The standard establishes the basic quality requirements for yam and establishes a benchmark for marketing yam globally. 

Code of practice on food allergen management for food business operators

ADOPTED- 25.09.2020

This code provides guidance on allergen management in food production, including controls to prevent cross-contact where an allergen is inadvertently transferred from a food containing an allergen to a food that does not contain the allergen. Its publication comes amidst growing concerns regarding the serious nature of food allergies and their health consequences, and the increasing complexity of the food supply chain. The code will facilitate a proactive approach to managing allergens in food production, rather than a reactive response once a food safety hazard has been identified. It supplements the newly adopted revised General Principles of Food Hygiene and the ongoing work on allergen labelling by the Codex Committee on Food Labelling.  

Revision of the General Principles of Food Hygiene

ADOPTED- 25.09.2020

This code of practice provides a common ground for the control of food safety worldwide and forms the basis for all other Codex hygiene texts and standards. The revision includes updates which will enable better application by food business operators, competent authorities and other stakeholders. The code also provides more guidance on the important health issue of allergens which complements the adoption of a new Codex code of practice on allergen management. This revision helps countries maintain a continued safe supply of food at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to reinforce good hygiene practices. 

New work: Guidelines for the safe use and reuse of water in food production

ADOPTED- 25.09.2020

This work will develop guidelines for the safe sourcing, use and reuse of water that comes into direct or indirect contact with food throughout the food chain. It will address the concept of water that is “fit for purpose” - as opposed to water of potable or drinking water quality - by applying a risk-based approach. The new text will consider the use of water along the food chain in context and it is also a response to the impact of climate change and the need to re-use or recycle water. Food business operators will benefit from practical guidance and tools to help them understand the risks and available interventions. The work should be completed in 2023. 

Regional standard for mixed zaatar

ADOPTED- 25.09.2020

This standard determines the requirements and characteristics for mixed zaatar, (a combination of raw and broadleaf thyme and the husk of sumac and sesame seeds, to which other ingredients may be added) intended for direct human consumption and used in many food preparations such as Lebanese mankoushe and other specialties of the Near East region. 

New work: Regional standard for maamoul

ADOPTED- 25.09.2020

Maamoul is a filled pastry or cookie type of food product, widely consumed in countries of the Near East region, prepared mainly from wheat flour, semolina, wheat germ, food salt, butter and water and  filled with a sweet chewy paste based on dates or other fruits. This type of product is a highly nutrient-dense food due to this filling, butter and dough. A regional standard will provide guidance to the Maamoul production industry on the preparation of Maamoul and facilitate trade. 

Standards for Chili sauce and Gochujang

ADOPTED- 12.10.2020 

The regional Codex standards for Chili sauce and Gochujang were developed in 2011 and 2009 respectively. These products are increasingly being consumed and distributed globally hence this conversion to a worldwide standard.  

Revision to the Standard for Mango Chutney

ADOPTED- 12.10.2020  

The Codex Standard for Mango Chutney (CXS 160-1987) was developed almost 30 years ago. Since then a lot of developments have taken place regarding choice of ingredients and additives: processing techniques: quality parameters including identification of defects: colour and flavor, as well as the food safety parameters. The revision is in line with current production and marketing practices and now conforms to the current layout of Codex standards. 

Standard for dried fruits

ADOPTED- 12.10.2020 

Dried fruits are produced and consumed in most regions of the world. Dried tropical fruits from developing countries are exported worldwide and the consumption of freeze-dried berries is likely to increase. Due to growing worldwide consumption, production and trade and the innovation of drying technology, Codex has developed an international standard for dried fruits to cover existing standards and new products. 

Standard for canned mixed fruits

ADOPTED- 12.10.2020  

Fruits are important for a healthy diet and canned fruits provide a good way to enjoy tasty and nutritious fruits any time of year. There is growing interest amongst consumers for different combinations of mixed fruits and while some varieties of canned mixed fruits are currently available in international trade, this comprehensive horizontal standard will cover new combinations of mixed fruits by describing the required essential quality, hygiene and labelling requirements of the products. 

New work: Proposal for the amendment of the Standard for Canned Sardines and Sardine-Type Products (CXS 94- 1981): inclusion of Sardinella lemuru (Bali Sardinella) in the list of Sardinella species under sec. 2.1

ADOPTED- 12.10.2020  

This amendment will provide Member Countries and the sardine canning industry with a revised list of sardine-type fishes authorized for the preparation of sardine and sardine-type products including Sardinella lemuru or Bali Sardinella. 

Photo: ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano
Comprising 189 Members and 237 Observers, the Codex Alimentarius Commission meets annually to adopt food safety and quality standards and related recommendations.